Day 5 of 9 excerpts from Craving: Forbidden
Welcome to the fifth day of excerpts from Craving: Forbidden, we hope you enjoy our latest anthology. You can purchase this collection of novelettes for only .99¢ or read for free on KindleUnlimted. Download your copy here.
I Never Told You by Poppy DuBois
Jill and I got to Pete’s early. She said she wanted to get the best table, but I know my best friend. She wanted to have a drink to calm her nerves before this mystery man and his buddy showed up for their “date.” I’d broken my Friday night plans with Egyptian cotton sheets and reality television shows after a hellishly long day to play wing-woman, largely because of Pete’s. Jill’s mystery man already earned points in my book for picking the bar and suggesting they each bring a friend. Pete’s was the kind of place where the beer was cold and cheap, the music was loud and classic, and where everyone from bearded hipsters to old-school bikers actually used the pool table. He clearly wasn’t trying to show off by choosing some hot spot.
The floor was littered with peanut shells. The air was thick with the distinct smell of stale smoke and spilled beer. The waitress was none too friendly when she came for our drink orders. Her black shorts and skin-tight white tank top did not leave a lot to the imagination.
“What do you want?” She popped her gum, punctuating her annoyance.
“I’ll have a rum and diet,” Jill answered. That was her drink of choice. Not too fancy, not too trashy. Just a hint of cool girl.
“Whatever cheap light beer you have on tap.” I wasn’t worried about being fancy or trashy. I just like the sudsy tickle.
The waitress walked away without another word.
“Okay, so tell me about the guy you met.” I wasn’t going to guilt Jill too hard for yanking me away from home and the comforts of my window AC unit. Yet. “You know I planned to stay in tonight. I only answered your call ’cause I thought you were bleeding out on the side of the road somewhere.”
“No offense, but I’m not sure you’d be the first person I’d call if I were bleeding out. I’ve seen your sewing skills. My life would be over for sure.”
Jill and I both laughed. We met in law school when we joined the same study group. It wasn’t too long before our sarcastic senses of humor bonded us. We became inseparable, even though we were also complete opposites. She was Susie Homemaker, who could whip up a complete meal from scratch in half an hour. I could barely boil water. She could sew, I could not. She was organized…and so on. Her hair and makeup were always flawless. My hair practically pulled itself into a ponytail. We were the yin and yang of best friends. And she was the only person who could drag me out on a Friday night when I had only wanted to stay in.
“Yeah, yeah.” My voice came out in a cackle-like snort laugh. “So tell me how you met a guy at the post office. I have so many questions. Why were you at the post office? Does he work there?”
“No, he does not work there. Though, the shorts they wear are kind of cute. And you know I have a thing for a man in a uniform. But, no. He was in line ahead of me. The line was, like, forever long and we started chatting. He was super cute. Kind of nerdy with big black glasses. Not pocket protector nerdy. But like hip nerdy. Did I mention he was super cute?”
I tapped my lips with my finger. “I think that rings a bell.”
“Do I look okay in this light?” Jill looked around the bar nervously.
“It’s so dim in here that I don’t think the light makes much of a difference.”
“Well, that makes me feel better.” Jill stuck her lips out in a pout.
“Jill, you look great. This guy has already seen you in the fluorescent light of the post office, so I think he knows what you look like. Unless of course his glasses were smudged when he saw you.”
Jill laughed as she threw a salt packet at me. “You’re a jerk. Why did I ask you to come?”
“So you look even better by comparison?”
“Oh, that’s right.”
We both dissolved into a fit of laughter. The waitress brought our drinks over and set them on the table without a word. Despite her bad attitude, the cold beer was exactly what I needed. It was refreshing. Rejuvenating.
“I think he’s here,” I whispered.
Jill’s face went pale and her body stiffened. “Really? How does he look?”
“Well, he’s not your normal type. You said he had a bushy gray beard and a beer gut, right?”
Jill turned around and saw the old guy who entered the bar. Black suspenders held up his faded blue jeans and his beard nearly reached his belly. Jill had chosen to sit with her back to the door so I could scope the guy out before he saw her. I couldn’t let that go to waste. One small prank served her right for dragging me out tonight.
“You’re a jerk. I bet that guy would be cool to hang out with, though. Imagine the stories he has to tell!”
After a few more sips of her drink, Jill started to relax. Her smile was a bit more natural and her shoulders less rigid.
The door to the bar opened again.
“Oh my God,” I whispered.
“Is he here?” Jill asked turning in her seat.
“Benji.” My voice was barely audible. It had been ten years since I’d seen him last, but I remembered him as clear as if it had been only ten minutes before. I took him in as he stood illuminated in the neon bar lights. My eyes must have been as big as saucers. I quickly wondered if there was a back exit where I could leave. Maybe Jill could tell them that I had the runs or it was that time of the month. Both of those would be better than facing what was walking toward me. Was the air getting thick? Had the restaurant always been spinning? I was going into full-blown panic, melt-down mode. I suddenly became an awkward girl of twenty and didn’t know what to do. And then there he was, standing at our table.
“Holy shit.” His voice still had the same husky tone that I remembered.
We both froze, staring at each other, not moving. Jill stood up as the second man walked up to her.
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